Last Updated on October 27, 2023

Cranial window implants in head-fixed mice offer stable optical access to large areas of the cortex over extended periods of time. Window preparations can be combined with viral preparations (or in genetically modified mice) to monitor, map or manipulate neuronal activity (eg. using optogenetics) in awake behaving animals. This makes them extremely useful for studying relationships between neuronal activity and behavior.

A major roadblock with the cranial window and optical imaging approach.

The main difficulty with the cranial window and optical imaging approach is the alignment of the mouse or other experimental subjects under the microscope. Due to the curvature of the subject animal’s skull, cranial windows are almost always angled. However, for the most precise optical access, windows should be aligned parallel to the imaging objective. Even minor changes to the window angle can offset neuropil in the axial direction under the microscope and sacrifice data collection. This issue becomes compounded when you repeat experiments over time. Minor changes in the window angle across sessions can distort or change the location of neuropil within the same imaging region, making it challenging to draw significant conclusions from your data.

How can you precisely align the mouse under the microscope each time?

One of AMUZA’s tools, the Imaging Adapter Base Mount on the TaskForcer, overcomes this challenge.

While the mount was made for the TaskForcer unit, it can be made to fit any behavioral rig and enables a more precise fit of your behavioral setup under the microscope.

The Imaging Adapter Base mount can be rotated in X, Y and Z directions to change the angle of your behavioral setup so that you can precisely align the head of the mouse underneath the microscope.

The base mount also contains mm markings, allowing you to get the exact same fit each time you place your behavioral rig under the microscope. This greatly minimizes the chance that observable changes to neuropil are due from distortion of the imaging location under the microscope and greatly improves the quality of your data.

If you are imaging over a wide field of view, the Imaging Adapter Base Mount can be readjusted to align each separate imaging location parallel with your objective. This ensures a consistent level of accuracy across each imaging location.

Each Imaging Adapter Base Mount is custom built to fit your microscope to ensure that you are getting the best product tailored to your specific needs.

In an era of Neuroscience where reproducibility of data is crucial, the Imaging Adapter Base Mount and TaskForcer unit offer stable precision for the most accurate results. You can learn more about this product, and the TaskForcer on our TaskForcer webpage.

Imaging Adapter Base Mount (left) and TaskForcer with base mount (right)